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Newsletter for 
Birdwatchers 



Vol, 36 No. 3 May - June 1996 



■ 




Vol. 36 No. 3 May - June 1 996 



Editorial 

D Improving the Newsletter 

□ Watching Common Birds 

□ Kihim Diary 

Articles 



■« 



□ Hawking technique of the Hobby, by Rahul 
Purandare 

□ Birding in Nandour Madhmeshwar, by S 
Chandrasekaran and S Jaytheerthan 

□ On Shikras with Red Eyes and Definition of Colours, 
by Kumaran Sathasivam 

D Birds of D'Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary, by 
Rathin Barman 

D Bird Attracting Trees and Birds of Shevaroys and 
Kolli Hills, by S Karthikeyan 

□ Birding at Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, by 
Soumyadeep Datta 

□ Birds of Periyar Tiger Reserve and Random Notes, 
by V Santharam 

□ Sexual Dimorphism in Barn Owls, by R 
Kanakasabai, P. Neelanarayanan and R. Nagarajan 

Correspondence 

□ Comments on the Newsletter, by Lavkumar Khacher 

□ Pond Herons and Otters, by G Maheswaran 

□ Comments on his previous article, by S Ashok 
Kumar 

□ Recent Sighting of Rednecked Grebe and Marbled 
Teal, by Hillaljyoti Singha 

□ Birds Seen at Valnur, Ootacamund, by Dr Eric and 
Chris Lott 

D White Storks in Hoskote, by Arnruth S 

D Houbara Bustard in Rajasthan, by Bharath Singh 

□ The Undelivered Speech, by Vinoj Mathew Phillip 

□ Diet of the Indian Roller, by Prof A Relton 

D Common Wood Shrikes on the River Bed, by S N 
Varu and J K Tiwari 

□ Albino Coot, by Anil Nair and Rakesh Vyas 

□ Indian Koel on Papaya, by K S Jose 

□ Red legged Pond Herons, by Prof A Relton 



Announcements 

□ Birds of Periyar 

□ Candidates for Asian Red Data Book, by Aasheesh 
Pittie 

□ Pheasants of India and their Aviculture, by K Suresh 
Singh 

□ Bibliographic Index 

Editorial 



Improving the Newsletter 

I am conscious that there is considerable room for 
improvement in the quality of this publication, and I intend to 
take the following steps. On the suggestion of Lavkumar 
Khacher, I will avoid the large number of references which 
usually accompany articles which are published. In some 
cases the "references are longer than the main piece". I will 
only include such references which are really important. One 
assumes that most writers consult the Handbook, the 
Pictorial Guide and other books before they put themselves 
into print. 

The other step which I want to take is to shorten articles 
where necessary to make them more effective. Unnecessary 
verbiage often detracts from the value of the piece. If any 
contributor wants his article to be reproduced verbatim, he 
must write to the Editor, in which case it will either be 
accepted or rejected. 

I see that a number of contributors to the Newsletter 
have now started to write for the Oriental Bird Club 
publications. This is most heartening for it shows that the 
Newsletter has acted as a stepping stone for novices to 
advance on the ladder of ornithology But I hope they will not 
forget the Newsletter completely. 

I must confess that I continue to use the old English 
names of birds and quite often the old scientific names. I 
don't intend to change the old English names whatever the 
experts might say. In course of time I hope I will be able to 
introduce th» latest scientific jargon as far as scientific 
names are concerned. 

Finally, may I repeat an appeal which I made some time 
ago. The Newsletter should be a source of pleasure for 
birdwatchers and instead of merely sending out a list of birds 
seen in a locality, it would be nice to get an account of the 
environment and of the many beautiful scenes which 
birdwatchers are privileged to encounter during their outings. 
This is what made the writing of ornithologists and naturalists 
in the early years of this century so interesting. 

Watching Common Birds 

The usual tendency of a birder on sighting a common 
bird is to make a mental or pencil note about its presence 
and that is about all. But one could attempt to be more 
involved. For example, when we hear one or more 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



43 



coppersmiths calling tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk endlessly, we could 
recall what T.C. Jerdon attempted to do. Which direction 
does the sound come from and why does it appear to come 
from different directions at different times from the bird sitting 
in the same place? Is the call of two or more birds identical - 
or is there a difference in the pitch and tone? Jerdon writes 
\ Page 316. Vol. I, Birds of India) "The sound often appears to 
come from a different direction to that from which it does 
really proceed; and this appears to me to depend on 
the direction of the bird's head when uttering the call. 
Mr. Philipps accounts for it by saying that it alters the 
intensity of its call. Sundervall remarks that "the same 
individual always utters the same note, but that two are 
seldom heard to make it exactly alike." I also think that when 
two birds are nearby there is a compulsion for both to 
communicate with each other. Do we ever see one 
coppersmith "hammering" away and the other silent? 

Kihim Diary, 10-4-96 to 26-5-96 

We arrived in Kihim on our annual pilgrimage on 10th 
April. It was cheering to hear from my son that he had 
recently seen a pair of blackcapped kingfishers (Halcyon 
piieata). i had seen a single bird on the rocks on the sea 
front in the 1950s and perhaps never again. When Salim Ali 
queried my identification I said that apart from its lovely coral 
red bill, black head and white collar, its wing pattern in flight, 
with its white patches, was similar to a myna's. No further 
cross examination was necessary. I am surprised that this 
bird is included in Salim Ali's Book of Indian Birds (8th 
Edition and others) as it is not a very common bird (or am I 
wrong?). Lavkumar Khacher has written about the close 
connection between this kingfisher and mangroves. There 
are still some stretches of mangroves in the creeks behind 
Kihim, but they are all under great "pressure" as is the case 
everywhere. 

The whitebellied sea eagle pair was seen and heard 
(nasal kenk- kenk-kenk) several times. Nothing more elegant 
exists in the bird world. The calls suggested that the birds 
were nesting (season October to June) and I was told of a 
nest high up in a casuarina. Casuarina is an exotic plant and 
yet it is the favourite nesting site for our eagle. 

Last year I had written that only the male crow 
pheasants were calling (coop coop coop coop) and the 
females hardly ever answered back. This year the situation 
was very different and there were frequent duets between 
the birds. This is a species which seems to be holding its 
own not merely in rural but also in our urban areas. Its nest is 
well protected "in the centre of a tangled thorny shrub at 
moderate height", and its wide range of food from caterpillars 
to birds eggs and nestlings keeps the race going - at the cost 
of some of the smaller species. But I like the sight of this bird 
walKing purposefully on the ground. Koels were very noisy, 
kuo-kuo-kuo-, chik, chik, chik, and the bubbling rattle of the 
female. There were several banyan trees fruiting so there 
was plenty of food for birds. 



Grey hornbills (Tockus birostris) with the casque on the 
long curved bill were commonly seen. One pair was nesting 
on a casuarina (season March to June). It is comic the way 
they survey the world moving their necks so slowly from side 
to side. 

I see from the Oriental Bird Club Bulletin No. 21 of July 
95, that Divya Mudappa has been given a grant of £500/- to 
study the nesting habit of the Malabar grey hornbill, the bird 
without the casque, formerly known as Tockus griseus, and 
now Ocyceros griseus. 27 nests have been located. "Most of 
the cavities were formed due to wood rot ... Therefore the 

practice of removal of trees with cavities on the basis 

that they are diseased, will also be deleterious to the 
hornbills and must be stopped." 

On 12th April among the birds on the beach I saw a 
green shank which seemed in poor shape and on the 18th, 
Badr Amir Ali and a friend with a video camera photographed 
a shahin falcon on a casuarina on the beach eating a water 
bird. The falcon was seen again on the following day, but the 
green shank was not seen again. I am putting two and two 
together but I may be wrong. 

On the morning of 27th April, a pair of goldenbacked 
woodpeckers, a pair of jungle mynas and 4 magpie robins 
seemed to be fighting for accommodation on a casuarina 
which has for years been used by the dayals for nesting. Are 
we running short of nesting holes? Then a female paradise 
flycatcher arrived and watching the squabble in progress 
seemed to say "why don't you make your own home as I do". 

In the village Pond, a stately purple heron, pairs of 
bronzewinged jacanas, yellow (?) wagtails, white-breasted 
kingfishers and some others appeared to have come to 
terms with humanity. Fishing and clothes washing around 
them did not worry them. Incidentally, this is the pond in the 
middle of which was the famous babul tree on which bayas 
nested in the thirties and where Salim Ali discovered the 
polygamous propensities of the bayas. Someone says that 
bayas are the most numerous land birds of our country. They 
do not appear to be so to me, inspite of polygamy. 

No signs again of ashy swallow shrikes (Artamus 
fuscus) which in the past were so numerous and which were 
such a joy to see until a few years ago huddled together on 
palmyra branches and hawking insects even on the sea 
shore "in graceful sailing flight". I believe the pollutants from 
the Thull Fertilizer Project may have something to do with it, 
and may be the consequence of the reduction of winged 
insects on which these birds lived. I asked Humayan Abdul 
Ali who happened to be there, whether be agreed. He sent 
me a note which I reproduce : 

"I do not know the actual or main food of Artamus, but 
there can be little doubt that the insect poisoning which has 
been carried out in our fields has killed off the larger 
free-flying insects or at least reduced their numbers. You will 
also see a similar decline in numbers of rufous-backed 
shrikes, blue jays, white-eyed buzzards, palm swifts(?) and 
many others." 



44 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



On the morning of 9th May, I thought I heard the lovely 
breeding song of the white-throated ground thrush. It is not 
an easy call to describe, except that it is ventriloquistic and 
leaves you wondering about the direction from which the 
sound comes. But on the same day I saw the bird behaving 
just like a jungle babbler rummaging among the leaves on 
the ground. It is such a relief to come across species which 
one fears are disappearing - all be it locally. 

One wonderful sight today was of a whitebrowed bulbul 
almost on the ground under a teak tree. This was at 
5.10 p.m. sunset 7 p.m. so the light was perfect, and I was 
taken aback by the beauty of the combination of its sober 
colours. Birds should inform humankind that it is not 
necessary to be gaudy to be beautiful. 

On the 11th May I walked up to Kankeshwar Hill which 
still has an evergreen forest patch at the top. As I walked up 
the 1000' hill, for quite a while the only birds I saw were 
Indian robins. But when I reached the evergreen patch I 
heard the bubbling call of the scimitar babbler, and also of 
the shama (Copsychus malabaricus). During almost every 



visit I have been able to see and hear this bird. But this time I 
could only hear its lovely song "rich in notes and quality." A 
largish branch of a mango tree, spanning the path on which I 
saw the bird last year was hacked down, and I saw the sad 
remains on the ground. There has been considerable 
hacking of trees even in this rare evergreen patch by the 
Maharashtra State Electricity Board employees. Can we not 
plan a "wireless" environment even in a Sacred Grove? 

This year there were comparatively few shore birds, and 
I must confess that I cannot distinguish between various 
species of plovers, kentish, grey, golden and others, even 
with the help of that excellent book "A field Guide to the 
Waterbirds of Asia" published by the Wild Bird Society of 
Japan. Their plumages vary so much depending on the time 
of the year. On 20th May, at 5.30 p.m. (sunset 7.10 p.m.) a 
large flock of over 35 grey plovers and a single whimbrel 
were seen. I noticed that as the tide came in the birds rushed 
into the water, did an about turn and with their backs to the 
sun started picking up food vigorously from the water. 

I look forward to seeing all these birds next year. 




Hawking technique of the Hobby Falco Subbuteo 

RAHUL PURANDARE, 18 A, Kapila Society, Gokhalenagar, Pune -411 053 






The hobby is a winter visitor to Maharashtra, and in Pune 
can be commonly seen in open wooded country or around 
cultivated areas, perched on telegraph and electricity poles. 
The bird is often seen singly, and sometimes 2-3 birds can be 
seen together hawking at dusk. Occasionally it is 
accompanied by its bigger resident cousin the shahin falcon 
Falco peregrinus pergrinator. 

On 22nd November 1995. I had been to Akshi, a 
seashore village near Alibag 18' 40'N and 72° 53'E, Raigad 
Dist., Maharashtra ). Around 6 o'clock in the evening, I was 
roaming on the beach, on the edge of a large Casuarina 
equisetifolia plantation. While observing a large but scattered 
flock of swallows my attention was attracted towards a tight 
flock of 12 to 14 larger birds (as compared to swallows) that 
were flying high up in the sky, at least 250 feet high. It was a 
very unusual sight since they looked like falcons with pointed 
wings very similar to the hobby. 

The flock was very active, flying swiftly; twisting and 
turning sharply. They were accompanied by swallows 
Hirundo daurica, but not a single bird attacked the swallows. 
Ultimately, after a minute or so, they lost height considerably. 
Two of them split from the group and arrived on the top of a 
Casuarina tree, and then rejoined the flock. I could readily 
identify the birds with my 8x30 binoculars when they came 
close. I could see the blackish head clearly with moustachial 
streaks. I could also see the longitudinally streaked 
underparts (that separate the hobby from the peregrine 
falcon) and rufous thighs. Also the birds were smaller than 



the peregrine falcon. To my surprise, it was indeed a flock of 
hobbies. 

I observed the flock for 6 to 8 minutes till it disappeared 
behind the trees. What I could guess from the twisting flight 
was that they were chasing winged insects. Although their 
food includes small birds (like swallows) and pipistrelle bats 
etc. (see Ali S., and Ripley S.D.), and both of them were 
available there, they were not chasing either of them. I was 
greatly surprised to see such a rare gathering of hobbies, 
since I had neither seen it before nor had I heard any of my 
birdwatcher friends had seen it. 

I suppose the advantage of hawking together is that the 
birds disturb a mass of flying insects and disburse them and 
insects escaping from one bird may be caught by another. 
However, I could not observe the hawking too closely and 
so I cannot comment on the later possibility. 

When I returned, I consulted the Compact Handbook of 
Birds of India and Pakistan by Ali and Ripley. To my great 
surprise, I found a reference to the above mentioned 
behaviour. In the book they write "sometimes (the hobby) 
hawks winged insects in a loose flock of ten or more birds in 
the manner of swifts, high up in the air, turning, twisting, 
rising, falling, circling around and darting at the quarry with 
great agility. Has been observed thus engaged in association 
with swallows H. rustica and H. daurica, which themselves 
frequently form its prey." 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



45 



I informed Mr Humayun Abdulali regarding this incident, 
to which he replied, "I have several sight records of the 
hobby from near Mumbai, but all singly, not even a pair!" 

I would like to mention here that the flock which I 
observed was a tight one unlike what Dr Salim AN describes. 



I should also restate here that the hobbies were chasing only 
winged insects and nothing else. I think it would be 
worthwhile to know if anybody has observed such a 
behaviour. 



Birding in Nandour Madmeshwar 

S. CHANDRASEKARAN and S. JAYATHEERTHAN, Plot No.6, Dayaakar Avenue, 

Chitlapakkan, Madras 600 064 




Birds seem to have an uncanny ability to pick up certain 
advantageous spots for their sojourn. Take for example 
Nandour Madhmeshwar close to Sinnar-Nifad in Nashik 
Taluka of Maharashtra. This belt is known for onions and sugar 
cane. 

This place, situated on the banks of river Godavari and 
near the dyke (more of an irrigation tank whose water flow is 
regulated to suit the farming around) at Khan gaon thadi, is 
really a place for bird watchers. A small village with simple 
folk who mind their own business of farming or cattle/sheep 
tending, this place looks like any other Indian village. The old 
Shiva temple — and hence the name Madhmeshwar — 
which stands above the rocky bed of the river is probably the 
only attraction for people around to visit this place, especially 
during Mahashivarathri. Otherwise, the village is deserted all 
round the year and very few people venture out into this 
area. 

We found this place fascinating because of the cliff 
swallows which nest on the steep walls of the rock — just 
opposite to the Shiva temple — overhanging the water 
running below. The industrious swallows build a funnel of 
mud attached to the rock with a lateral entrance which 
serves as a nest to bring up the brood. The rock face is so 
steep that except for lizards or snakes it is difficult for other 
predators to gain a perch and rob the nest, though many a 
times crows try to gain access but unsuccessfully. And the 
nests are generally on the under side of a rock surface 
above the water which acts as a further deterrent, since a 
slip could land you directly into the water below. 

The best way to observe these birds is to sit on the rocks 
opposite sloping down from the temple. The swallows in their 
typical fashion span out and come in as clouds and seem to 
be all the time keeping a conversation going between them 
with their chip-chip calls. Once silence descends, it indicates 
that caution is to be exercised and no direct entry to the nest 
is to be made. This invariably occurs whenever a crow or a 
raptor circles above or sits on the adjacent rocks. The fact 
that swallows spend most of their time on the wing is well 
established. They spend hardly a few minutes in the nest. 

This is only a part of bird life seen here. The river and the 
channels and the squelchy fields adjoining them harbour a 



number of water fowl. The acacia trees bordering the fields 
and the channels provide an ideal site for nesting or roosting. 

Ducks, mostly shovellers, pintails, pochards, teal and 
spot bills prefer the channels and they are noticed in the 
pools and shallow stretches when the water level is low. The 
herons and their allies, namely spoonbills, open bill storks, 
grey herons, large egrets, ibises, cranes, etc., prefer the 
fields inundated or squelchy patches of land. Of course, 
such a habitat invites a number of waders like curlews, 
plovers, sandpipers. The reed beds along the channel 
harbour warblers, conspicuous among them being Franklins 
wren and ashy wren. We found that this place is a haven for 
wagtails and at least about seven species could be seen 
here. Since they were foraging side by side on the marshes 
one could easily distinguish between them. 

It is encouraging to see that the State Forest 
Department, has posted a guard who is knowledgeable, 
unlike many in the department, and the DFO also seems to 
be interested in the bird life of this area. 

Lastly, mention has to be made of the Irrigation 
Department guest house and its compound. This area 
encompassing a well made boundary with trees and shrubs 
around, the old British style guest house, harbours a lot of 
woodland birds and serves as a refuge for them. Notable 
among the birds seen here are grey hornbills, coucals, 
sunbirds, warblers, woodpeckers, doves, orioles, redstarts, 
etc. An hour's stay in this compound could be very rewarding 
for any beginner and he would certainly be impressed with 
the life around. A bonus is the purple sunbird's nest on the 
bougainvillea creeper above the arch facing the guest house 
as you enter the garden. We only wish that this area is kept 
as it is rather than being used for constructing more buildings 
in the name of development. 

As we write this, we are afraid of publicising this place 
thereby leading people to venture out to take up 
"eco-tourism", as they call it, and spoil the very basis of 
conservation. We wish to advocate that these places should 
be conserved as they are, since they are already in the 
trusted hands of "unspoilt" village folk. 



46 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 




On Shikras with Red Eyes and Definition of Colours 

KUMARAN SATHASIVAM, 29, Jadamuni Koil Street, Madurai 625 001 



Do shikras ever have red eyes? The Handbook by Ali and 
Ripley says that the Indian, Ceylon and Burmese shikras 
all have "golden or orange-yellow" irides, but I have observed 
at times the shikra eye appearing red. In one instance (1st 
August 1991 , Madurai), I observed from close quarters and in 
good light a male shikra, the colour of whose eyes I can only 
describe as blood-red. 

Asked about this, V Santharam wrote that he 
remembered having seen shikras with red eyes too. On his 
suggestion I sought further information from Professor KK 
Neelakantan. In his reply, the professor pointed out that 
Baker and Inglis, in Birds of Southern India say that the 
colour of the shikra's eye is orange, while Salim Ali's Birds of 
Kerala says "Iris of male orange-red, of female bright yellow". 
Surely, the colour I call "blood-red" cannot be the same as 
Ali's "orange-red"? Interestingly, according to the Handbook, 
there is a race of shikra known only from Katchal Island, 
Nicobars, whose iris is "dark crimson". 

This brings up the question of words used to describe 
colours in natural history in general. We all know that no 
description of a bird's call or song quite conveys the effect of 
the "original". Colours are just as bad or worse. Individual 
perceptions of the meanings of such terms as "vinous", 
"isabelline" of "ferruginous" tend to vary, without expert 
guidance. Even descriptions such as "upper parts more grey, 
less ashy" (the Ceylon shikra compared to the Indian shikra), 
or "dark smoky brown washed with grey above" (female 
Indian shikra) can leave much to the imagination of the 
uninitiated reader. So is there a standard colour reference to 
define these terms? As the saying goes, there is little that is 
new under the sun, and the problem must have been 
considered by others before. For instance, in an old volume 
of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society there is 
a paper titled "On iridescent colours and a method of 
examining iridescent objects, birds, insects, minerals, etc., 
so as to ensure uniformity in their description" (Alex 
Hodgkinson, Vol.8, pp 282- 287; this paper is noted as 
having originally appeared in the Memoirs and Proceedings 
of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, Vol.5, 
Part 2). 

If a natural history colour standard already exists, then 
its existence should be made more widely known. If one 
does not, it would be worthwhile developing one. It could 
simply assume the form of a shade card, but it would have 
obvious limitations such as being subject to change during 



the printing process and fading with time. It will probably be 
advantageous to exploit the flexibility offered by computers 
these days, and create the standard in the form of a software 
package meant for use with an SVGA monitor. It seems that 
these monitors are capable of displaying thousands of 
shades. In the future, therefore, we may be using numbers in 
lieu of words to describe the plumage of a bird. "I saw this 
raptor which was 5236 above, 2196 below, with narrow 7752 
longitudinal streaks on the throat, and broad 4607 streaks on 
the breast. It had a prominent crest of a few long 7752 
feathers sticking out from the hindcrown. Reading the 
Handbook (colour-standardized edition) I have identified the 
bird as an Indian crested hawk-eagle as the description 
tallies perfectly." 

What if it is found that even SVGA monitors literally 
change their colours with time? One can imagine the 
standardization being carried out to its logical end in the 
search for an absolutely invariable definition of names of 
colours. A handbook of colours will be created, defining each 
term by means of a table of wavelengths and/or a graph: 

No. 341: Plumbeous 



Wavelength 
(nm) 


Content 
(percentage) 


656.3-642.8 


44.8 


435.2-434.1 


28.7 


405.9-402.6 


17.6 


401.6-401.2 


8.9 




Armed with such unshakable accuracy, we can then 
proceed to describe our birds with devastating precision: "the 
tail feathers were purplish violet (Colour Handbook No.741), 
only there was about 2.5% greater content of 404.7 nm, and 
a streak of yellow (No. 952, but with only 3.2% of 579 nm) 
was seen near the greenish (No.711, the 546.1 nm peak 
more pronounced) rump". Until that day when we are 
colour-standardized, we must make do with the ambiguous 
jargon we currently employ. However, on reflection, this 
parlance is not entirely without its merits. 



Acknowledgement 

I am grateful to Dr George Michael who read this note 
and offered his suggestions and encouragement. 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



47 




Birds of D'Ering memorial wildlife sanctuary, 

Arunachal Pradesh 

RATHIN BARMAN, Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, 

Gauhati University 781 014, Assam 



The D'ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary (20'53'-28"10'N, 
90'23'-95°30'E) is situated in the East Siang district of 
Arunachal Pradesh and spreads over an area of about 1 90 sq 
kms between Siang and Sibia river, and is located 16 kms 
southeast of Pashighat town. 

From 27.01.96 to 30.01.96, I visited the sanctuary for 
birdwatching and sighted a number of avifauna. 

Divided into three managerial ranges Anchalghat, 
Sibiamukh and Barghuli the sanctuary consists of 
semi-evergreen forest, fast flowing river channels and river 
islands with unconsolidated rocky beds, riverine marshes 
and abundant grasslands. About 50% of the sanctuary is 
grassland where Saccharum spontanium, S.arundinaceum, 
Neyraudia reynaudiana, Thysanolaena maxima, Chrysopog 
sedges like Cyperus spp., Scripus spp., Fimbristylis spp. etc. 
are common. Terminalia myriocarpa, Dillenia indica, Bombax 
ceiba, Lagerstroemia speciosa, Albizia spp. etc. are the 
common trees in the forests. 

Numerous channels formed by the river Siang constitute 
the main waterfowl habitat of the sanctuary. These lotic 
wetlands invite a great number of wintering waterfowl most 
of which are ducks. In a few seasonal small sized forested 
wetlands resident waterbirds make their home. A total 
number of 113 species were recorded during the period in 
the sanctuary. The endangered Bengal florican Eupodotis 
bengalensis was the most important sighting during these 
days. The forest guards also reported the presence of white 
winged wood duck Cairina scutulata, greylag goose Anser 
anser and spotbilled pelican Pelecanus philippensis. They 
clearly identified these three birds in the waterfowl handbook 
carried by me. 

Though the sanctuary supports a rich biodiversity, great 
pressure like thatch collection, and livestock grazing has an 
impact on its ecology. Unauthorised timber operations are 
quite common in some parts like Barghuli, Japang and 
Balun. Poaching is almost open in some parts. The 
tremendous hunting pressure on each and every species 
has brought a big question mark on the future of the 
sanctuary. During the four-day survey in the sanctuary, we 
met about 50 persons who were directly involved in poaching 
or illegal timber operations. During the dry season in the 
large grassland areas they just burn the dry thatch from one 
side and wait for the helpless animals on the other side. 
During night, they poach animals using four-wheel drive 
vehicles with high power lights. Both of these methods were 
seen by the survey team. Due to the improper infrastructure 
and shortage of forest staff the authorities cannot do 
anything. Once the Swamp Deer, Water Buffalo, Hog Deer, 
Wild Pig, Tiger etc. were very common in the sanctuary but 
today these animals are rarely seen. 



SI. 


Ref. 


Name 


Scientific name 


No. 


No. 






Fam 


ly : Podicipedidae 




1 


3 


Great crested grebe 


Podiceps cristatus 


Family : Phalacrocoraeidae 




2 


26 


Cormorant 


Plalacrocorax carbo 


3 


27 


Indian shag 


P. ruficolis 


4 


28 


Little cormorant 


P. niger 


5 


29 


Darter 


A. rut a 


Family : Ardeidae 




6 


36 


Grey heron 


Ardea cinerea 


7 


38 


Little green heron 


Ardeola striatus 


a 


42 


Pond heron 


Ardea grayii 


9 


44 


Cattle egret 


Bulbulcus ibis 


10 


46 


Large egret 


Ardea alba 


11 


■17 


Smaller egret 


Egretta intermedia 


12 


49 


Little egret 


Egretta garzetta 


13 


52 


Night heron 


Nycticorax nycticorax 


Family : Anatidae 




14 


83 


Lesserwhistling teal 


Dendrocygna ja vanica 


15 


90 


Ruddy shelduck 


Tadorna ferruginea 


16 


93 


Pintail 


Anus acuta 


17 


94 


Common teal 


Anas crecca 


18 


97 


Spotbilled duck 


Anas poecilorhyncha 


13 


100 


Mallard 


Anas platyrhynchos 


20 


101 


Gadwall 


Anas strepera 


21 


103 


Wigeon 


Anas penelope 


22 


105 


Shoveller 


Anas clypeata 


23 


108 


Common pochard 


Aythya terina 


2-1 


111 


Tufted duck 


Aythya tuligula 


25 


114 


Cotton teal 


Nettapus coromandelianus 


26 


118 


Goldeneye duck 


Bucephala clangula 


27 


120 


Goosander 


Mergus merganser 


Fan 


ily : Accipitridae 




28 


124 


Blackwinged kite 


Elanus caeruleus 


29 


135 


Brahminy kite 


Haliastur indus 


30 


147 


Sparrow hawk 


Accipiter nisus 


31 


171 


Lesser spotted eagle 


Aquila pomarina 


32 


181 


Himalayan griffon 


Gyps himalayensis 


33 


182 


Longbilled vulture 


Gyps indicus 


34 


185 


Whitebacked vulture 


Gyps bengalensis 


35 


192 


Pied harrier 


Circus melanoleucos 


36 


196 


Crested serpent eagle 


Spilomis cheela 


Family : Falconidae 




37 


221 


Lesser kestrel 


Falco naumanni 






48 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



Family : Phasianidae 

38 247 Swamp partridge 

39 255 Jungle bush quail 

40 267 Common hill partridge 

Family : Otididae 

41 356 Bengal florican 
Family : Rostratulidae 

42 429 Painted snipe 
Family : Burhinidae 

43 437 Great stone plover 
Family : Glareolidae 

44 444 Small indian pratincole 
Family : Charadriidae 

45 364 Lapwing 
Greyheaded lapwing 
Redwattled lapwing 
Spurwinged lapwing 
Little ringed plover 
Marsh sandpiper 
Greenshank 
Common sandpiper 
Fantailed snipe 

Family : Laridae 



46 


365 


47 


366 


48 


369 


49 


380 


50 


395 


51 


396 


52 


401 


53 


409 



Francolinus gularis 
Perdicula asiatica 
Arborophila torqueola 

Eupodotis bengalensis 

Rostratula benghalensis 

Esacus magnirostris 

Glareola lactea 

Vanellus vanellus 
Vanellus cinereus 
Vanellus indicus 
Vanellus spinosus 
Chdradrius dubius 
Tringa stagnatilis 
Tringa nebularia 
Tringa hypoleucos 
Gallinago gallinago 



54 


453 


Great blackheaded 


gull 


Larus ichthyaetus 


55 


454 


Brownheaded gull 




Larus brunnicephaus 


56 


455 


Blackheaded gull 




Larus ridibundus 


57 


463 


Indian river tern 




Sterna aurantia 


58 


484 


Indian skimmer 




Rynchops albicollis 



Family : Columbidae 

59 495 Green pigeon 

60 534 Indian ringed dove 

61 537 Spotted dove 

Family : Psittacidae 

62 546 Alexandrine parakeet 

63 550 Rose ringed parakeet 

Family : Cuculidae 

64 572 Large hawk-cuckoo 

65 573 Common hawk-cuckoo 

66 576 Indian cuckoo 

67 600 Crow-pheasant 

Family : Strigidae 

68 652 Spotted owlet 
Family : Caprimulgidae 

69 680 Common Indian nightjar 



Treron curvirostra 
Streptopelia decaocto 
Streptopelia chinensis 



Pisittacula eupatria 
Psittacula krameri 



Cuculus sparverioides 
Cuculus fugax 
Cuculus micropterus 
Centropus sinensis 

Athene brama 

Caprimulgus macrurus 



Family : Apodidae 

70 699 Large whiterumped swift Apus pacificus 

71 703 House swift Apusatfinis 



Family : Alcedinidae 

72 719 Lesser pied kingfisher 

73 722 Common kingfisher 

74 735 Whitebreasted kingfisher 

Family : Coraciidae 

75 755 Indian roller 
Family : Upupidae 

76 763 Hoopoe 
Family : Capitonidae 

77 782 Large green barbet 

78 784 Lineated barbet 

79 792 Coppersmith 

Family : Picidae 

80 809 Blacknaped woodpecker 

81 844 Woodpecker 

Family : Lanidae 

82 933 Grey shrike 

83 945 Rufousbacked shrike 

84 949 Brown shrike 

Family : Oriolidae 

85 959 Blackheaded oriole 
Family : Dicruridae 

86 963 Black drongo 
Bronzed drongo 
Haircrested drongo 
Greater R.T.drongo 

Family : Sturnidae 

90 1002 Piedmyna 

91 1006 Common myna 

92 1009 Jungle myna 

Family : Corvidae 

93 1032 Indian tree pie 

94 1049 House crow 

95 1054 Jungle crow 

Family : Campephagidae 

96 1070 Wood Shrike 
Family : Irenidae 

97 1098 Common lora 

98 1103 Leaf Bird 

Family : Pycnonotidae 

99 1128 Redvented bulbul 

100 1123 Whitecheeked bulbul 

Family : Muscicapidae 

101 1265 Jungle babbler 

102 1538 Tailor bird 

103 1661 Magpie robin 

104 1696 Stone chat 



87 


971 


88 


973 


89 


977 



Ceryle rudis 
Alcedo atthis 
Halcyon smyrnensis 

Coracias benghalensis 

Upupa epops 

Megalaima zeylanica 
Megalaima lineata 
Megalaima haemacephala 

Picus canus 
Picoides atratus 

Lanius excubitor 
Lanius schach 
Lanius cristatus 

Oriolus xanthornus 

Dicrurus adsimilis 
Dicrurus aeneus 
Dicrurus hottentottus 
Dicrurus paradiseus 



Sturnus contra 
Acridotheres tristis 
Acidotheres fuscus 



Dendrocitta vagabunda 
Corvus splendens 
Corvus macrorhynchos 

Tephrodornis pondicerianus 




Aegithina tiphia 
Chloropsis aurifrons 

Pycnonotus cater 
Pycnonotus leucogenys 

Turdoides striatus 

Orthotomus sutorius 

Copsychus saularis 

Saxicola torquata 
przewalskii 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



49 



Family : Motacillidae 

105 1854 Tree pipit 

1 06 1 874 Forest wagtail 

107 1885 Pied wagtail 

108 1884 Grey wagtail 

Family : Nectarinidae 

109 1917 Purple sunbird 
Family : Zosteropidae 

110 1933 White eye 



Anthus trivialis 
Motacilla indica 
Motacilla alba dukhunensis 
Motacilla cineria 

Nectarinia asiatia 

Zosterops palpebrosa 



Family : Ploceidae 

111 1934 House sparrow 

112 1974 Spotted munia 

Family : Emberizidae 

113 2047 Blackfaced bunting 



Passer domesticus 
Lonchura punctulata 

Emberiza spodocephala 



Ref. NSerial number of "A Pictorial Guide of the Birds of the Indian 
Sub-continent", by Salim Ali and S.D. Ripley, Bombay Natural 
History Society 



Bird attracting trees and Birds of Shevaroys and Kolli Hills 

S Karthikeyan, 24, Opp. Banashankari Temple, 8th Block, Jayanagar PO, Bangalore 560 082 



As part of the Tree Shrew project funded by World Wildlife 
Fund — US through World Wide Fund for Nature — India 
(Tamil Nadu State Office), I stayed at Yercaud a popular hill 
station ca. 32 km from Salem in South India. During my stay 
I also happened to gather information about various other 
fauna of the area. 

Very close to my work spot there were one each of two 
species of trees which were of particular interest to me since 
they attracted many species of birds. 

a) Canthium dicoccum Fam: Rubiaceae — 1 species of 
birds as listed were attracted to the fruit of the tree. 



01 


Small Green barbet 


Megalaima viridis 


02 


Goldfronted chloropsis 


Chloropsis aurilrons 


03 


Fairy bluebird 


Irena puella 


04 


Redwhiskered bulbul 


Pycnonotus jocosus 


05 


Yellowthroated bulbul 


Pycnonotus xantholaemus 


06 


Jungle babbler 


Turdoides striatus 


07 


Blueheaded rock thrush 


Monticola cinclorhynchus 


08 


Blue rock thrush 


Monticola solitarius 


09 


Whitethroated ground thrush Zoothera citrina 


10 


Blackcapped blackbird 


Turdus merula 


b) 


Firmiana colorata Fam. 


Sterculiaceae — 5 species of 




birds were attracted for 


nectar of this tree. 


01 


Goldfronted chloropsis 


Chloropsis aurilrons 


02 


Whitethroated babbler 


Dumetia hyperythra 


03 


Jungle babbler 


Turdoides striatus 


04 


Purplerumped sunbird 


Nectarinia zeylonica 


05 


White-eye 


Zosterops palpebrosa 



It is evident that the trees have been used mainly by 
forest birds. However, when these tree species are 
propagated in an urban setting bird species occurring in 
urban areas would naturally use them. Being indigenous 
species these trees have a good chance of surviving. 

Birds of Shevaroys and Kolli Hills, Eastern ghats 

Shevaroy hills and Kolli hills are part of the southern 
Eastern Ghats. The former is a well known hill station and 
widely visited and the latter though has similar weather 
conditions is not much visited due to lack of facilities. A brief 
description of both the areas is given below. 



Though I spent six months at Shevaroys many areas in 
the hill range were not visited. The visit to Kolli hills was very 
brief. Hence the list is by no means comprehensive. 

The consolidated checklist of birds of both the hill ranges 
that follows is based on observations made during the Tree 
Shrew project. 

Shevaroys : Almost six months (Feb to July 1992) were 
spent at Yercaud (11' 46' N, 78°13' E) which is the main town 
and hill station located ca 32 km from Salem. It covers an 
area of 470 sq km and the highest point is the Servarayan 
temple peak (1700 m above MSL). Most of the hills have 
been brought under coffee plantation and some of the 
hillocks mined for aluminium. Hardly any sholas are left. 
While plenty of time was spent in the coffee plantations, on a 
few occasions the foothills were also visited. 

Of the species listed for this region 23 species were 
seen involved in some breeding activity. Yellowthroated 
bulbul, black bulbul and wintering of pied ground thrush (also 
at Kolli hills) [(Karthikeyan, S (1994)] were interesting. 

Kolli hills: The hill range was visited for three days from 
07 March 1992 to 09 March 1992. The foothills areas was 
covered on the first day. The second day was spent at the 
top while the third was used to walk down from the top to the 
foothills. This hill range covers 490 sq km and the highest 
point is Kuzhivalavu at 1450 m above MSL. The day at the 
top was spent at Solakadu (1200 m above MSL; 11*18' N, 
78' 21' E). This region has seen development with the first 
good roads opening as recently as 1960s. Now large areas 
are under pineapple and tapioca. 

The interesting sightings were that of the yellowbrowed 
bulbul (Karthikeyan, S communicated), Malabar whistling 
thrush, pied ground thrush, yellowthroated bulbul and the 
frequency of painted spurfowl encounters on the way to 
Solakadu from the foothills. Bluewinged parakeet listed here 
is based on the call heard. Sight confirmation would be 
desirable. 



50 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



References 

Karthikeyan, S (1994): Some Notes on Pied Ground Thrush 
Zoothera wardii (Blyth). J Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 9(1) : 
145-146. 

Karthikeyan, S (Communicated): Yellowbrowed Bulbul 
Hypsipetes indicus (Jordon) in the Kolli Hills (Tamil nadu), 
Eastern Ghats. 

Birds of Shevaroy Hills and Kolli Hills 

Common Name & Scientific Name Shevaroy Kolli 

hills hills 



Family: Ardeidae 

001 Pond heron 

002 Cattle egret 

Family: Accipitridae 

003 Blackwinged kite 

004 Crested honey buzzard 

005 Pariah kite 

006 Brahminy kite 

007 Shikra 

008 White-eyed buzzard 
0C9 Bonneli's hawk eagle 

01 Booted hawk eagle 

01 1 Black eagle 

012 Crested serpent eagle 

013 Whitebacked vulture 

014 Short-toed eagle 

Family: Falconidae 

015 Kestrel 

Family: Phasianidae 

016 Grey partridge 

017 Painted bush quail 

018 Redspurfowl 

019 Painted spurfowl 

020 Grey junglefowl 

Family: Rallidae 

021 Whitebreasted waterhen 

Family: Columbidae 

022 Spotted dove 

023 Emerald dove 

Family: Psittacidae 

024 Roseringed parakeet 

025 Blossomheaded parakeet 

026 Bluewinged parakeet 

Family: Cuculidae 

027 Common hawk cuckoo 

028 Indian cuckoo 

029 Plaintive cuckoo 

030 Koel 

031 Small greenbilled malkoha 

032 Sirkeer cuckoo 

033 Coucal 



Psittacula krameri 
Psittacula cyanocephala + 
Psittacula columboides 



Cuculus varius 
Cuculus micropterus 
Cacomantis passerinus 
Eudynamys scolapacea 
Rhopodytes viridirostris 
Taccocua leschenaultii 
Centropus sinensis 



Ardeola grayii 
Bubulcus ibis 



Elanus caeruleus + 

Pernis ptilorhyncus + 

Milvus migrans + 

Haliastur indus + 

Accipter badius + 

Butastur teesa . + 

Hieraaetus fasciatus + 

Hieraaetus pennatus + 

Ictinaetus malayensis + 

Spilomis cheela + 
Gyps bengalensis 

Circaetus gallicus + 

Falco tinnunculus + 



Francolinus pondicerianus - + 

Perdicula asiatica + 

Galloperdix asiatica + 

Galloperdix lunulata + + 

Gallus sonneratii + + 

Amourornis phoenicurus - + 

Streptopelia chinensis + + 

Chalcophaps indica + 



Family: Strigidae 

034 Collared scops owl 

035 Barred jungle owlet 

036 Mottled wood owl 

Family: Caprimulgidae 

037 Jungle nightjar 

Family: Apodidae 

038 Palm swift 

039 Crested tree swift 

Family: Alcedinidae 

040 Common kingfisher 

041 Whitebreasted kingfisher 

Family: Metropidae 

042 Small green bee-eater 

043 Bluebearded bee-eater 

Family: Coraciidae 

044 Blue Jay 

Family: Upupidae 

045 Hoopoe 

Family: Capitonidae 

046 Large green barbet 

047 Small green barbet 

048 Coppersmith 

Family: Picidae 

049 Rufous woodpecker 

050 Small yellownaped 

woodpecker 

051 Les. goldenbacked 

woodpecker 

052 Pygmy woodpecker 

Family: Pittidae 

053 Indian pitta 

Family: Alaudidae 

054 Ashy-crowned finch lark 

Family: Hirundinidae 

055 Dusky crag martin 

056 Common swallow 

057 Redrumped swallow 

Family: Lanidae 

058 Brown shrike 

Family: Oriolidae 

059 Golden oriole 

060 Blackheaded oriole 

Family: Dicruridae 

061 Black drongo 

062 Grey drongo 

063 Whitebellied drongo 

064 Bronzed drongo 

065 Racket-tailed drongo 



Otus bakkamoena + 

Glaucidium radiatum + + 

Strix ocellata + 

Caprimulgus indicus + 

Cypsiurus parvus + + 

Hemiproche longipennis + + 

Alcedo atthis + 

Halcyon smymensis + + 

Merops orientalis + + 

Nyctyomis athertoni + 

Coracias benghalensis + + 

Upupa epops + 

Megalaima zeylanica + 

Megalaima viridis + + 

Megalaima haemacephala + + 

Microptemus brachyurus + 

Picus chloropus + 

Dinopium benghalense + + 

Picoides nanus * 



Pitta brachyura 


+ 


■ 


Eremopterix grisea 


• 


+ 


Hirundo concolor 


+ 


+ 


Hirundo rustica 


+ 


+ 


Hirundo daurica 


+ 


+ 


Lanius cristatus 


+ 


+ 


Oriolus oriolus 


+ 


+ 


Oriolus xanthornus 


+ 


+ 


Dicrurus adsimilis 


+ 


+ 


Dicrurus leucophaeus 


+ 


+ 


Dicrurus caerulescens 


+ 


- 


Dicrurus aeneus 


+ 


- 


Dicrurus paradiseus 


+ 


+ 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



Artamus fuscus 



Stumus malabaricus + 

Sturnus pagodarum + + 

Acridotheres tristis + + 

Acridotheres tuscus + 



Dendrocitta vagabunda + + 
Corvus splendens - + 

Corvus macrorhynchos + + 



Family: Artamidae 

066 Ashy swallow shrike 

Family: Sturnidae 

067 Greyheaded myna 

068 Brahminy myna 

069 Common myna 

070 Jungle myna 

Family: Corvidae 

071 Indian treepie 

072 House crow 

073 Jungle crow 

Family: Campephagidae 

074 Pied flycatcher shrike Hemipus picatus + 

075 Common wood shrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus+ 

076 Large cuckoo shrike Coracina novaehollandiae + 

077 Blackheaded cuckoo shrike Coracina melanoptera + + 

078 Scarlet minivet Pericrocotus tlammeus + + 

Family: Irenidae 

079 Common iora 

080 Goldfronted chloropsis 

081 Goldmantled chloropsis 

082 Fairy bluebird 

Family: Pycnonotidae 

083 Redwhiskered bulbul 

084 Redvented bulbul 

085 Yellowthroated bulbul 



Aegithina tiphia + + 

Chloropsis aurilrons + + 

Chloropsis cochinchinensis + + 
Irena puella + 



086 Whitebrowed bulbul 

087 Yellowbrowed bulbul 

088 Black bulbul 



095 Quaker babbler 

096 Brown flycatcher 

097 Rufoustailed flycatcher 

098 Redbreasted flycatcher 



099 Whitebellied blue flycatcher Muscicapa pallipes 

100 Tickell's blue flycatcher Muscicapa tickelliae + 

101 Verditer flycatcher Muscicapa thalassina + 



Pycnonotus jocosus + + 

Pycnonotus cater + + 
Pycnonotus 

xantholaemus + HO 

Pycnonotus luteolus + + 

Hypsipetes indicus - + 
Hypsipetes 

madagascariensis + 



Family: Muscicapidae 

089 Spotted babbler Pellomeum ruficeps + + 

090 Slatyheaded scimitar babbler P. horsfieldii + + 

091 Whitethroated babbler Dumetia hyperythra + + 

092 Rufous babbler Turdoides subrufus + 

093 Jungle babbler Turdoides striatus + + 

094 Whiteheaded babbler Turdoides affinis - + 



Alcippe poioicephala + + 

Muscicapa latirostris + 

Muscicapa ruficauda + + 

Muscicapa parva + 



102 Paradise flycatcher 

1 03 Franklin's wren warbler 

1 04 Ashy wren warbler 

105 Jungle wren warbler 

106 Tailor bird 

107 Blyth's reed warbler 

108 Dull green leaf warbler 



Terpsiphone paradisi + + 

Prinia hodgsonii + + 

Prinia socialis - + 

Prinia sylvatica + 

Odhotomus sutorius + + 

Acrocephalus dumetorum + + 

Phylloscopus trochiloides + + 



1 09 Large crowned leaf warbler Phylloscopus occipitallis 

110 Magpie robin Copsychus saularis + + 

111 Shama Copsychus malabaricus + 

112 Piedbushchat Saxicola caprata - + 

113 Indian robin Saxicoloides fulicata + + 

114 Blueheaded rock thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus + 

115 Blue rock thrush Monticola solitarius + 

116 Malabar whistling thrush Myiophonus horsfieldii ■ + 

117 Pied ground thrush Zoothera wardii + + 

118 Whitethroated ground thrush Zoothera citrina + 

119 Blackcapped blackbird Turdus morula + 
Family: Paridae 

120 Grey Tit Parus major + 
Family: Sittidae 

121 Velvetfronted nuthatch Sitta frontalis + 
Family: Motacillidae 

122 Tree pipit Anthusspp + 

123 Grey wagtail Motacilla cinerea + + 

124 Large pied wagtail Motacilla maderaspatensis + + 
Family: Dicaeidae 

125 Thickbilled flowerpecker Dicaeum agile + 

126 Tickell's flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos + + 

127 Plain-coloured flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor + 
Family: Nectarinidae 

128 Loten's sunbird Nectarinia lotenia + + 

129 Purple sunbird Nectarinia asiatica + + 
Family: Zosteropidae 

130 White-eye Zosterops palpebrosa + 
Family: Ploceidae 

131 House Sparrow Passer domesticus - + 

132 Yellowthroated Sparrow Petronia xanthocollis ■ + 

133 Baya Ploceus philippinus - + 

134 Redmunia Estrilda amandava ■ + 

135 Rufousbellied munia Lonchura kelaarti + 

136 Spotted munia Lonchura punctulata + 
Family: Fringillidae 

137 Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus + 
HO — species identified based on call 




Bird watching at Dibru-Saikhowa wildlife sanctuary 



SOUMYADEEP DATTA, Natures Beckon, Ward No 1, Dhubri, Assam 783 301 

Dibru-Saikhowa is situated within the flood plain of the 
Brahmaputra in the Tinsukia district of Assam and is 
located between 27'35' and 27"50' N latitude and 95*10' and 
95*40' E longitude. It consists of grassland and moist mixed 



deciduous forest intercepted by natural water canals arising 
from the Brahmaputra. There are swampy areas scattered 
throughout the forest. 



52 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



Besides the presence, of myriad of avifauna, the 
sanctuary is the abode of a large population of elephants, 
tigers, leopards, water buffaloes, otters etc. There are many 
feral horses in this forest which is a unique feature of this 
sanctuary. 

The average elevation of the sanctuary is 120 metres 
above sea level, having an average annual rainfall of 2875 
mm. The average temperature varies between 7' to 32'C. 

The prominent species of non aquatic grass found here 
are: Ekra Phragmites karka, Nal Arundo donax, Ulukher 
(Imperata cylindrica), Khagori Saccharum spp, Birina 
E.ravannae, Borota Kher Saccharum elephantus, San Kher 
Polivna ciliata, Dubori Cynodon dactylon, Locusa 
H.Compresa, Kahuwa Saccharum spontenum. 

The aquatic grass and plants often visible in the swamps 
of Dibru-Saikhowa are: Dal Andropogon spp., Helochi 
Enhydra flushians, Barpuni Pistia strafinotes, Bhet Nymphia 
spp., Water Hyacinth Meteka wichhornia species. 

Some of the major trees of this sanctuary are: Hollong 
Dipterocarpus pilosus, Simul Bombax ceiba, Amra Spondias 
mangifera, Sisso Dalbergia sisoo, Ajahar Lagerstroemia 
flosreginae, Khokan Duabanga sonneratioides, Urium 
Bischofia javanica, Sam Artocarpus chaplasha, Bola Moms 
laevigata and Bhar Salix terasparma. 

Because of this diversity in plants and habitat various 
species of birds have found suitable niches at 
Dibru-Saikhowa. 

It is no wonder that such a unique habitat provides 
shelter to the endangered white winged wood duck Cairina 
scutulata which is also found in limited areas of Assam and 
Arunachal. During our visit a large number of urium trees 
were full of berries which attracted thousands of grey fronted 
green pigeons Treron pompadora. They were present in 
every urium tree bringing the forest into animation. Mixed in 
their company there were pied mynas Sturnus contra, jungle 
myna Acridotheres (uscus, hundreds of redwhiskered bulbul 
Pycnonotus jocosus, white cheeked bulbul Pycnonotus 
leucogenys and red vented bulbul Pycnonotus cafer. 

I have never come across such a congregation of 
terrestrial birds in one place. It was a fascinating scene. 

Another important event during our bird watching at 
Dibru-Saikhowa was the spotting of a large group of black 
storks Ciconia nigra. The group was spotted on the 15th 
December at 9.05 am in a swamp known as Kolomi beel. 
There were altogether forty-six birds, out of which twenty-six 
were juvenile. The presence of a large number of juvenile 
birds led us to think that there must be a nesting colony in 
the vicinity of the swamp. We searched for the colony and 
asked the villagers about it. The villagers reported that at 
some distance from the swamp there was a wetland called 
"Katgarh". The black storks nest and breed on big trees 
around the Katgarh wetland. 



This information was further confirmed by the forest 
guards (Baparam Bharali, Nabin Gohain and Jibakanta 
Dutta). Later on, Mr NC Sharma, Range Officer of the Guijan 
Wildlife Range also told us that he himself had seen the 
nesting and breeding of black storks at Katgarh wetland. 

This finding is important because so far no breeding 
record of black storks in India has been reported (Reference: 
A field guide to the waterbirds of Asia, Wild Bird Society of 
Japan, 1993). 

A list of other birds which we spotted at Dibru-Saikhowa 
is given below. Readers will note that some of these birds 
are candidate species for inclusion in the Red Data Book. 



SI. No. English Name 


Scientific Name 


1 


Little grebe 


Podiceps rulicollis 


2 


Indian shag 


Phalacrocorax fuscicollis 


3 


Little cormorant 


Phalacrocorax niger 


4 


Pond heron 


Ardeola grayii 


5 


Large egret 


Ardea alba 


6 


Smaller egret 


Egretta intermedia 


7 


Little egret Mr^ik. 


Egretta garzetta 


8 


Cattle egret *lTf 


Bubulcus ibis 


9 


Openbill stork Ej? 


Anastomus oscitans 


10 


Adjutant gy 


Leptoptilos dubius 


11 


Lesser adjutant 


Leptoptilos javanicus 


12 


Spotbill duck 


Anas poecilorhyncha 


13 


Ruddy shelduck 


Tadorna ferruginea 


14 


Large whistling teal 


Dendrocygna bicolor 


15 


Greyheaded fishing eagle 


Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus 


16 


Pallas's fishing eagle 


Haliaeetus leucoryphus 


17 


Brahminy kite 


Haliastur indus 


18 


Marsh harrier 


Circus aeruginosus 


19 


Crested serpent eagle 


Spilornis cheela 


20 


Bronzewinged jacana 


Metopidius indicus 


21 


Purple moorhen 


Porphyrio porphyrio 


22 


Redwattled lapwing 


Vanellus indicus 


23 


Terek sandpiper 


Tringa terek 


24 


Common sandpiper 


Tringa hypoleucos 


25 


Marsh sandpiper 


Tringa stagnatilis 


26 


Speckled wood pigeon 


Columba hodgsonii 


27 


Spotted dove 


Streptopelia chinensis 


28 


Rufous turtle dove 


Streptopelia orientalis 


29 


Indian ringdove 


Streptopelia decaocto 


30 


Alexandrine parkakeet 


Pasittacula eupatria 


31 


Roseringed parakeet 


Psittacula krameri 


32 


Crow-pheasant 


Centropus sinensis 


33 


House swift 


Apus aflinis 


34 


Palm swift 


Cypsiurus parvus 


35 


Chestnut headed bee-eater 


Merops leschenaulti 


36 


Common kingfisher 


Alcedo atthis 


37 


Storkbilled kingfisher 


Pelargopsis capensis 


38 


Large green barbet 


Megalaima zeylanica 


39 


Lesser golden backed woodpecker Dinopium benghalense 


40 


Small yellownaped woodpecker 


Picus chlorolophus 


41 


Blackheaded cuckoo-shrike 


Coracina melanoptera 




Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



53 




42 Longtailed minivel 

43 Goldenfronted chloropsis 

44 Black drongo 

45 Bronzed drongo 

46 Indian tree pie Jfc-, 

47 Green magpie 

48 Jungle crow 

49 Sultan tit 

50 Grey tit 

51 Yellowbreasted babbler 

52 Necklaced laughing thrush 

53 River chat 

54 Magpie robin 

55 Stone chat 

56 Blackbrowed red warbler 

57 Striated marsh warbler 

58 Pied wagtail 

59 Yellow wagtail 

60 Greyheaded myna 

61 Common myna 



Pericrocotus ethologus 
Chloropsis aurifrons 
Dicrurus adsimilis 
Dicrurus aeneus 
Dendrocitta vagabunda 
Cissa chinensis 
Corvus macrohynchos 
Melanochlora sultanea 
Parus major 
Macronous gularis 
Garrulax moniligerus 

Chaimarrornis 

leucocephalus 
Copsychus saularis 
Saxicola torquata 
Acrocephalus bistrigiceps 
Megalurus plaustris 
Motacilla alba 
Motacilla flava 
Sturnus malabaricus 
Acridotheres tristis 



We could identify a total sixty-eight species of birds. 
There were some warblers and flycatchers which we failed to 
identify because of their fleeting movement and presence 
inside the bushes. 

Another striking point which we observed here was that 
the number and species of wetland birds were far less than 
the number and species of terrestrial birds. This may be due 
to excessive fishing in the swamps by the forest villagers. 
But more detrimental was their practice of using poisons in 
the swamps for a large haul of fishes. 

This point was raised during our discussion with the 
Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Assam. Appropriate 
measures should be taken to stop this menace. 

References 

Ali Salim (1986). Field Guide to the Birds of the Eastern 
Himalayas. Oxford University Press, Madras. 

Role, P.V., Yogini Vaghani (1991). Field Guide to the common 
Trees of India. W.W.F. - India. Oxford University Press. 

Assam Forest at a glance. Published by Assam Forest 
Department (1993). 




Birds of Periyar Tiger Reserve and Random Notes 

V SANTHARAM, 68, I Floor, Santhome High Road, Madras 600 028 






As a part of the survey of the Indian great black woodpecker 
(Dryocopus javensis), I visited some forest areas in the 
Maharashtra Western Ghats in November 1995 and the 
Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala from 13-1 7 March 1996. During 
these visits, I came across a few species of birds, apparently 
not reported from here earlier. 

On 18th November, I was surveying the Met Indavli area 
of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, some 40 kms west of 
Satara. The habitat here was semi-evergreen with quite a 
few tall trees and fairly lush undergrowth. I was walking 
along the stream close to the trek path leading to the Vasota 
Fort, a favourite week-end camp site for several adventure 
— seekers from nearby areas. In some dense bushes, I 
detected movements and on focussing my binoculars, I 
located a small flock of blackcapped babblers (Rhopocichla 
atriceps). A little later, I located another group of 3-4 birds 
along the trek path, further away and also heard their harsh 
'churrs'. 

Another bird I saw along the stream was a brown 
breasted flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), perched about a 
metre above the ground on a small shrub. This is a very 
familiar bird and I have seen it on several occasions in 
Madras and in southern Western Ghats in winter months. 
The whitish lores and the pale yellow legs were easily 
noticed. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-wooded reserve 
forest next to the Sawantwadi town (in the Sindudurg 



district). The Narendra Hill reserve has moist deciduous 
vegetation with several large trees. On 23rd November, I 
heard two greyheaded bulbuls (Pycnonotus priocephalus) 
calling here and after some effort was able to locate a bird 
briefly as it flew away. 

A visit to the Thalket Garden, the next day, yielded three 
more interesting birds. Partly managed as an orchard by the 
Forest Department, there is still quite a bit of moist 
deciduous forest left as a Reserve Forest. A couple of 
rubythroated bulbuls Pycnonotus melanicterus gularis, little 
spiderhunters Arachnothera longirostris and a blue-eared 
kingfisher Alcedo meninting were among those seen here. 
The last mentioned was my first sighting of this species and 
fortunately I had an excellent view of the bird, perched on a 
branch above a small stream. The bird allowed a close 
approach and permitted me to observe it for about 10 
minutes. I could clearly see the blue on the head and 
ear-coverts, darker chestnut-red underparts, a small 
yellow-white patch on throat, a patch on the sides of the 
head, darker bluish-grey upper parts, red feet and dark bill. 

None of these species have been reported in Humayun 
Abdulalis' checklist of Birds of Maharashtra (BNHS, 1981). In 
SD Ripley's 'Synopsis' (1982), these species have earlier 
been recorded upto Belgaum or North Kanara in the 
W.Ghats. However, Sawantwadi happens to be in the same 
latitudinal range as Belgaum. It is possible that several other 
species reported to occur upto Goa/North Kanara/Belgaum 
could occur in Sawantwadi as the forests here are 
contiguous with Goa/North Kanara. 



54 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



At Periyar Tiger Reserve, I came across three species 
not mentioned in 'Birds of Periyar' by A Robertson and MCA 
Jackson (1992). On 14th March, I located two openbill storks 
(Anastomus oscitans) on dead trees in the lake beyond 
Edapalayam in the company of several other species of 
waterbirds. A single night heron Nycticorax nycticorax was 
seen in flight just outside the park entrance, heading towards 
the lake at dusk on 15th March. On 16th March, I 
encountered a pair of bluetailed bee-eaters Merops 
philippensis in the patch of forest near the Periyar house. 
One of them was seen perched on a dead branch of a 
roadside tree, briefly. I also saw a couple of little grebes 
(Podiceps ruficollis) near the boat landing, pointed out to me 
by Mr Girish kumar, a local naturalist. These were in 
non-breeding plumage. This species is very rare and only a 
single bird was seen at Periyar in 1969. 

Acknowledgements 

I am grateful to the various forest department officials for 
their kind co-operation and help. The survey is being 
supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York. I 
also thank Mr CS Swaminathan and Mr TP Girish Kumar 
who accompanied me to the field at Koyna and Periyar 
respectively. 

Large congregations of whitenecked (or wooly- 
necked) storks 

In a recent issue of the Newsletter (NLBW 35: 112-113, 
Nov-Dec 1995), Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury presented a 
summary of his sight records of the whitenecked storks 
(Ciconia episcopus) in Assam. He found the bird was 
nowhere common and two was the most common group 
size. He also refers to the largest flock recorded in india but 
unfortunately has not given the number of birds present. In 
the editorial section of the same issue (p. 102) Zafar 
Futehally quotes the records of the birds seen at Periyar 
Tiger Reserve, Kerala, where upto 9 birds were recorded 
once and a dozen birds seen in nearby lowland area. 

I have also come across small numbers of these storks 
(2-4) in the wetlands around Madras and elsewhere. 
However, I had occasion to see fairly large congregations of 
these birds at the Vazhani Reservoir in the Trichur district of 
Kerala during 1992 and 1993. 

On 21st February 1992, I spotted 16 birds at the 
reservoir and also watched with interest a wild dog (Cuon 
alpinus) half-heartedly stalking a stork for a few minutes 
before giving up and joining the rest of the pack. In 
1993, I saw atleast 25 birds on 4 March, and two days later, 
I counted 50 birds along with egrets and two openbill storks 
(Anastomus oscitans). They were resting on a dried-up 
mudflat in the middle of the reservoir. On a later date 
(23 March), I noticed 30-40 storks including a few birds seen 
soaring in the thermals. 

On a recent visit to Periyar (13-17 March 1996), I was 
able to see 10 whitenecked storks together at the Water's 
edge between the boat landing and Edapalayam on 15th 
March. The previous day, I had seen four birds flying at dusk 



near Manakkavala Forest House. I had even seen a bird 
flying over the Kumily Town (4 kms from Thekkady) on 13th 
March. Going through my old notes, I find that I had never 
seen more than three birds at Periyar in all the five visits to 
the Tiger Reserve between 1986 and 1991. 

Record number of Indian Darters at Vedanthangal 

We visited the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary, some 80 
kms from Madras on 14-15 February 1996. We were happy 
to see a large number of waterbirds breeding in the lake this 
year despite a poor monsoon and low level of water in the 
sanctuary. But what was most thrilling was the presence of 
Indian Darters (Anhinga melanogaster) in big numbers. I 
counted 40 birds on a Barringtonia tree and another 30 birds 
were present on a bamboo clump. In addition, there were 
nearly 30 birds scattered in the other trees of flying about. 
Most of the darters seen were in adult plumage. I have been 
a regular visitor to the sanctuary since 1979 and I don't 
remember having come across more than 10- 20 birds here 
on any visit. 

The presence of about 100 darters at Vedanthangal is of 
great interest as it represents about 5% of the estimated 
population of this species in South Asia. The data generated 
from the Asian Waterfowl counts indicate that low numbers of 
darters are seen in the South Asian region and the species is 
now considered globally threatened. 

Reactions to a snake slough 

I was returning to the forest station at Olakara on 15 
March 1993, having completed my observations on 
woodpeckers that morning when my attention was drawn by 
the alarm calls given by some birds from a low bush, near 
the path. There were four purplerumped sunbirds {Nectarinia 
zeylonica) and a pair of tailorbirds {Orthotomus sutorius) 
moving about uneasily on the branches. Focussing my 
binoculars, I found the cause of their alarm — a snake 
slough some 2 feet in length, swaying in the breeze. The 
birds moved within inches of the shed skin, flicking their tails 
and drooping and shivering their wings and incessantly 
uttering their alarm calls. However, just a few feet away, but 
in full view of the shed skin, were a pair of ioras (Aegithina 
tiphia) and a male purple sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica) which 
did not exhibit any signs of alarm and moved about in the 
normal fashion. 

Sago Palm fruits in the diet of Jerdon's imperial 
pigeon 

On 24 November 1995, while on a visit to Sawantwadi in 
southern Maharashtra in connection with the great black 
woodpecker Survey, I noticed a Jerdon's imperial pigeon 
(Ducula badia) feeding on the large reddish fruits of the Sago 
Palm (Caryota urens). The Handbook mentions that the bird 
feeds largely on fruits of Ficus and Myristica, which are 
swallowed entire. There is no mention of the Caryota fruits in 
its dietary. According to the "Flora of the Presidency of 
Madras", (3 vols) by Gamble, these fruits are geotose in 
shape and about 0.6 to 0.75 inches long. 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



55 




Introduction 



Sexual Dimorphism in barn owl (Tyto alba) 

R KANAKASABAI, P NEELANARAYANAN and R NAGARAJAN, Division of Wildlife Biology, 
AVC College (Autonomous), Mannampandal 609 305 Mayiladuthurai 

barring. // the tail is light and has no barring at all, the 
owl is almost certainly male. 



The common barn owl (Tyto alba) is a species of open 
country and is well known for its close association with man 
and agriculture. Barn owls are frequently observed in 
man-made structures in Nagapattinam Quaid-e-Milleth 
district, Tamilnadu. They are soft plumaged, big headed birds 
of prey with large eyes directed forward and surrounded by a 
facial disc. They are mainly nocturnal. The species is 
cosmopolitan (Burton, 1984) and in fact, it is one of the most 
widely distributed of birds (Marti, 1989). 

The value of barn owls in checking rodent pests was 
reported recently by Neelanarayanan ef a/., (1994) and 
attempts have been made to study the ecology and biology 
of barn owls in Nagapattinam. 

Sexual dimorphism in barn owls has been studied by 
Colvin (1984) in New Jersey and by Looman (1985) in Utah, 
USA. The sex and age dimorphism in the barn owl has also 
been studied by Marti (1990). Literature review indicates that 
there is no information about the sexual dimorphism in barn 
owls from India. Therefore to fill up this lacuna an attempt 
has been made with the following objective. 

i) to study the morphological differences between sexes 
and to develop a criteria for sexing the adult barn owls 
and 

ii) to study the gonads of barn owls. 

Materials & Methods 

The present study was carried out in four deceased and 
12 live barn owls. The sexes of deceased and live owls were 
determined by a combination of morphological and 
behavioural traits as suggested by Marti (1990) and 
Anonymous (1993). The following keys were used for 
examining the morphological variations and for confirmation 
of sex. 

1 Overall colouring of the back : Males are often very light 
brown or yellow buff with areas of light grey and 
perhaps some white showing. Females are often a rich 
brown with grey and this is slightly darker and more 
extensive. 

2 Upper surface of the tail: Males are often light buff or 
white with barring either light grey or absent. Females 
are usually buff or brown with black or dark grey 



3 Upper surface of primary wing feathers: The leading 
half of each feather is usually light brown (or even 
white) with light grey barring in a male and brown with 
black or dark grey barring in a female. If the primaries 
are very pale with no baring, the owl is certainly male. 

4 Throat area (a band about 3 cm wide, below the facial 
disc): In males of any age, the throat is almost always 
white. In females, the throat is often light brown or buff. 

5 Sides of the head (an area about 1 .5 cm to the sides of 
the facial disc): In a male (with a white throat) the area 
of white often extends upto either side of the head, to a 
point approximately level with the eyes. In a female 
(with or without a brown throat) these areas are usually 
light brown or buff. 

6 Underside of wings (the underwing coverts from the 
carpal joint of the wing to the body): The underside of 
the wings are white in both sexes. The main thing to 
look for is spots, the size of which vary from the tiniest 
speck of black through to match — head sized. An owl 
with no spots at all is almost certainly male. Some 
males though do have spots at the carpel joint but these 
tend to be tiny. In a female the spots usually present 
around the carpal joint and may extend right across the 
wing to the body. 

7 Underside of the body (the chest below the throat): 
Again spots vary in size and distribution in this white 
area. In a female, spots are usually present on the 
sides and may even extend right across the breast from 
one side to the other. An owl with match-head sized 
black spots right across the breast is definitely a 
female. Note, however that both males and females 
sometimes have only a few spots on each side but in 
males these tend to be tiny flecks. 

After examining the morphological traits in the deceased 
birds they were dissected out for the confirmation of sex. The 
reproductive system of both sexes were dissected and the 
sexes were confirmed. 

(This is an abbreviated version - Editor) 




Correspondence 



COMMENTS ON THE NEWSLETTER. LAVKUMAR 
KHACHER, 646 Vastunirman, Gandhinagar 382 022 

I was in the Palnis on the invitation of the Palani Hills 
Conservation Council (PHCC) of which you were a one time 
President. I was able to see how effectively the dynamics of 



the Palnis have been shattered. Sholas are alive with birds, 
the eucalyptus, pine and wattle plantations devoid of them. 
People like us should be more concerned about such crass 
arrogance. What are we doing about this. I also do not see, 
or hear, any strong condemnation against the Prosopis 
juliflora menace officially supported by Forest Departments 
in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. 



56 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



Commenting on NL Vol.36, No.1 Jan/Feb 1996, may I 
suggest we omit references - for instance, space on 
references following the note "flocks of green Avadavat in 
Kanha Tiger Reserve" is as great as the note itself. It almost 
sound like when I attended a seminar in Kuwait, all the Arab 
delegates invoked a common preamble. Here we have the 
Salim Ali — Ripley. Martin Woodcock being invoked each 
time. Rather depressing really. In larger articles this does not 
cause discomfort, but for a note on sighting something? 
Really it is taking things too far. Let us not overdo the 
scientific nightmare. 



POND HERONS AND OTTERS. G MAHESWARAN, Stork 
Ecology Project, Centre of Wildlife & Ornithology, Aligarh 
Muslim University, Aligarh 202 002, India 

On 8 and 9 March, 1996 I saw an interesting scene in 
Banketaal of Dudwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh. In the 
morning around 10.15 hrs on 8 March I saw 10 pond herons 
(Ardeola grayii) following an actively foraging family of 
Smooth Indian otter (Lutra perspicillata). There were 6 Otters 
(two adult and four young ones) foraging in the fringes of the 
wetland where wildrice (Oryza sp.) dominate the vegetation. 
All the otters moved towards the inundated grass area and 
caught a number of fish. When the otters moved around the 
fish and flies got disturbed and became victims of the pond 
herons. Whenever the otters moved, the pond herons 
followed. The Otters did not show any aggressiveness 
towards the pond herons. The next day also I observed a 
similar scene. 



COMMENTS ON HIS PREVIOUS ARTICLE. S ASHOK 
KUMAR, Plot No.491, Road No.10, Jubilee Hills, 
Hyderabad 500 033. 

[at the request of the Editor the author comments on 
his article in the previous issue, explaining why there 
is so much variation in the bird life of three water 
bodies all seemingly similar] 

Durgamma is a fairly large tank, containing fish, 
crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles, insects etc. The presence of 
little cormorants, grey herons, egrets, cotton teal, marsh 
harrier and kingfishers is indicative of the adequate 
availability of food notwithstanding the fishing operations 
conducted by the Cooperative Society. My enquiries reveal 
that these operations are carried out on a moderate scale. 
This tank appears to be the homeground of cotton teals as 
evidenced by the presence of chicks. The absence of other 
species of duck is obviously due to the fact that Miapur tank, 
which is just 6 kms away as the crow flies, provides a better 
supply of food including floating algae. This explains the 
presence of a large concentration of waterfowl in Miapur 
tank. 

During the Asian Water Fowl Census, 1996, I had 
counted 17 little cormorants, 8 pond herons, 15 cattle egrets, 
4 little egrets, 4 pintails, 109 cotton teal, 4 shovellers, 10 
garganey teal, 16 redcrested pochards, 7 coots, 7 
whitebreasted waterhens, 10 blackwinged stilts and 100 + 
unidentifed ducks. The other factor for the presence of so 



many waterfowl is the locational advantage — the tank abuts 
the National Highway No. 9 and therefore it is in full public 
gaze discouraging poaching. Generally roadside wetlands in 
public gaze, provide a safe haven for birds. 

Tummadi tank in close proximity to Durgamma tank is a 
tiny pond used by little cormorants, cotton teal and marsh 
harriers as a secondary feeding ground. They do not seem to 
stay put for they were not found in the late evening 
consecutively for three days. 

The lack of floating vegetation and reed growth is 
perhaps the reason for the absence of purple moorhens and 
whitebreasted waterhen in Durgamma tank. These birds are 
however found in Tummadi and Bachpalli tanks which 
provide an ideal habitat with their vast floating vegetation 
and prolific reed growth. I presume that the few pintails, 
cotton teals and blackwinged stilts are the ones from Miapur 
tank that have strayed into Bachpalli tank. 



RECENT SIGHTING OF REDNECKED GREBE AND 
MARBLED TEAL IN ASSAM. HILLAUYOTI SINGHA, C/o 
Late Dr B Hazarika, Pan! Gaon, Poly Road, Nagaon 782 001 
Referring to the short note — "Red-necked Grebe in 
Assam — a new record" by Anwaruddin Choudhury (NLBW 
1996, Jan/Feb 36(1): 13-14), I would like to give more 
information. On 18 January 1996, I led a team for waterfowl 
census conducted by AWB and IWRB to Laokhowa wildlife 
sanctuary (26.29 N, 92.45' E approx.) 20 km north-east from 
Nagaon town. In the morning we counted wetland birds in 
Saraloni beel (area 5 sq km; waterbody 3.5 sq km) — one of 
the largest beels in the sanctuary. In addition to 23 species of 
water-birds including greyheaded lapwing Vanellus cinereus 
and blackheaded gull Larus ridibundus in large number, we 
saw two unidentified grebes. We referred to the Pictorial 
Guide (1994) and 'A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia' 
(Wild Bird Society of Japan, 1993) and were delighted to 
discover them to be rednecked grebe Podiceps griseigena. 
None of us had seen the bird before. They were in 
nonbreeding plumage. Laokhowa WLS is around 70 km from 
Pabitora WLS where Shri CR Bhobora had photographed 
two Rednecked Grebes in 1992-93. 

Again on 21st January 1996, I went to Samaguri beel 
(62 Ha), 20 km east from Nagaon town for the same 
waterfowl census. The beel (26.26' N, 93.25' E approx.) is an 
oxbow lake very near to the 37 national highway and is 
famous for lesser whistling teal Dendrocygna javanica and 
cotton pygmy goose Nettapus coromandelianus. We 
counted 19 species of aquatic birds including fulvous 
whistling teal Dendrocygna bicolor. But we were surprised to 
see one marbled teal Marmaronetta angustriostris. It was 
swimming with a small flock of lesser whistling teal and was 
quite discernible among them. Then I realised that a few 
minutes earlier I had seen another bird in flight. We observed 
the swimming bird for more than half an hour. Prasanta 
Bordoloi took some of its photographs from different angles. 
This bird is a winter visitor to and uncommon in Assam 
(Choudhury, 1990). Prior to me Prof PC Bhattacharjee and 
Prasanta Saikia of Gauhati University had seen one Marbled 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



57 



Teal in Kaziranga National Park and Bibhab Talukdar had 
seen one under the Kalia Bhomora bridge in the river 
Brahmaputra near Tezpur town two years back. I showed the 
photographs to Bidhab and Saikia who confirmed it to be a 
marbled teal. Anwaruddin Choudhury suggested the 
possibility of an albino lesser whistling teal, since it was 
found in the same flock and this cannot be ruled out. 
However, considering the morphological details it is likely to 
be a marbled teal. 

References 

Choudhury, A. 1 990. Checklist of the Birds of Assam. Sofia Press 
and Publishers Pvt Ltd, pp 14. 



BIRDS SEEN AT VALNUR, OOTACAMUND. Dr ERIC & 
CHRIS LOTT, Communicated by Lt Gen BC Nanda, Coorg 
Wildlife Society, General Thimaya Circle, Madikeri 571 201, 
Kodagu, Karnataka. 

"I enclose a list of birds we saw in this very short visit 
(March 4-5, 1996). The previous burning of undergrowth in 
the forest did not seem to have discouraged birds as one 
might expect. In fact this made viewing much easier, though 
photography more dificult, in that it was not easy to get close 
to birds on the whole. I did, however, manage to get good 
shots of malabar hornbill, forest wagtail and spotted piculet. I 
missed out on good opportunities with mottled woodowl and 
malabar trogon." 



Little cormorant 
Pariah kite 
Cattle egret 
Jungle cock 
Redwattled lapwing 
Spotted dove 
Blossomheaded parakeet 
Roller 

Whitebreasted kingfisher 
Malabar hornbill 
Goldenbacked 3-toed 
woodpecker 

Wiretailed swallow 
Scarlet minivet 
Large cuckoo shrike 
Spotted owlet 
Spotted piculet 
Black drongo 
Yellowcheeked tit 
Blackheaded babbler 
Jungle babbler 
Pied bush chat 
Magpie robin 
Blueheaded rockthrush 

Largecrowned leaf warbler 
Booted warbler 



ft 



Greyheaded fishing eagle 

Brahminy kite 

Honey buzzard 

Whitebreasted waterhen 

Green sandpiper 

Rufous turtle dove 

Bluewinged parakeet 

Green bee-eater 

Storkbilled kingfisher 

Little green barbet 

Lesser goldenbacked 
woodpecker 

Swallow 

Pied flycatcher-shrike 

Mottled woodowl 

Hawkowl 

Greater racket-tailed drongo 

Jungle crow 

Scimitar babbler 

Whitethroated babbler 

Indian blue chat 

Indian robin 

Shama 

Orangeheaded ground thrush 
(white throated) 

Yellowbrowed leaf warbler 

Blyth's reed warbler 



Brownbreasted flycatcher 
Black naped flycatcher 
Smaller grey cuckoo shrike 
Ashy swallow shrike 
Common lora 
Redvented bulbul 
Rubythroated bulbul 
Little spiderhunter 
White eye 
Whitebacked munia 
Large pied wagtail 
Grey wagtail 
Jungle myna 
Hill myna 

Purplerumped sunbird 
Greenbilled malkoha 
Crimsonbreasted barbet 
Velvetfronted nuthatch 
Goldfronted chloropsis 




Tfckell's blue flycatcher 
Brown shrike 

Blackheaded cuckoo shrike 
Large woodshrike 
Redwhiskered bulbul 
Yellowbrowed bulbul 
Golden oriole 
Shag 

Malabar trogon 
Hawk cuckoo 
Forest wagtail 
Greyheaded myna 
Common myna 
Small sunbird 
Plain flower pecker 
Crimsonthroated barbet 
Indian pitta 
Red spurfowl 



WHITE STORK IN HOSKOTE. S. AMRUTH, 115, Upstairs, 
Gandhi Bazaar, Basavanagudi, Bangalore 560 004 

On Monday, the 4th of Dec '95, I went with my friend 
N.R. Swamy to the Hoskote Tank on the Old Madras Road 
for a routine visit. At about 9 a.m. we started walking along 
the periphery and on the bed of the tank which was almost 
dry, except for a small puddle of water. We saw a small flock 
of open billed storks (Anastomus ascitans) wading in the 
shallow water. We also saw some large white birds which 
turned out to be white storks (Ciconia ciconia). They were 27 
in number. On our approaching closer they took to the air 
and settled on the far side of the tank, mixing with another 
flock of whitestorks. We reached the far side and made the 
final count of 66 white storks including the flock of 27 birds. 
This is probably the second highest count of this bird, the 
highest being that of 85 birds sighted in 1990 (Sridhar et al, 
1 990). We observed the birds for quite a long time. At about 
11.30 a.m. they took off towards Bangalore, on being 
disturbed by the villagers who landed with their live- stock. 
We feel that such a congregation of these birds is significant. 

Some of the other birds that were spotted were 
garganeys (Anas querquedula), black winged stilt Himan 
topus himantopus, green sand piper Tringa ochropus, wood 
sand piper Tringa glareola, common sand piper Tringa 
hypoleucos, little ringed plover Charadrius dubius & green 
shank Tringa nebularia. 

Reference : 

Sridhar, S (1990), A record flock of white storks sighted in 
Karnataka NLBW 30 (3+4) : 10. 

BWFCB (1994) Annotated Checklist of the birds of Bangalore 
(p P 92). 



58 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



HOUBARA BUSTARD SIGHTED IN SORSAN 
BRAHMANIMATA PROPOSED SANCTUARY IN SOUTH 
EAST RAJASTHAN. BHARAT SINGH, Bhim Nivas, 
Gumanpura, KOTA 324 007 

A houbara bustard Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii 
was sighted on 4th December 1995, in the evening on a cold 
cloudy day within the Sorsan^Brahmanimata proposed 
sanctuary in Baran district in sourth east Rajasthan. This is 
the eastern most record of a Houbara bustard as the site is 
approximately located on 76-E longitude and 25-N latitude. 
The bird was watched with a binocular at a close range as it 
was moving among the Zizyphus bushes close to a mustard 
field. The movement of its long thin neck in typical camel like 
fashion helped in the identification. The shape of the head 
and tufts of feathers of the crown & neck were also 
prominent. White and very 'round mirror on each wing with 
black primaries was another indicator of the species in flight. 
I had been repeatedly sighting this bird for the last two 
winters but never got a close and clear view. The Sorsan 
Brahmanimata proposed sanctuary is one of the last few 
resorts of the Great Indian bustard. The unduating boulder 
strewn land supports rough grasses and Zizyphus. Some 
cultivation does take place on the northern boundary from 
where the right main canal passes. It is in this locality that 
the houbara was seen. The local forest guard saw the bird 
thrice during the month & then on 24th January 1996, 
Rakesh Vyas and Dr.V.G. Gokhale (Pers. Com.) saw it 
moving on the margin of the cultivation. They were able to 
photograph the bird with a normal lens. I do not consider it 
to be a straggler, since the bird stayed through the winter 
months and it was sighted in previous years also. It is a 
case of eastward range extension of houbara bustard, worth 
recording. 



(probably used by the Christian land owner) and started to 
feed on insects both in the air and on the land. 

Suddenly a small snake, striped keel back Amphiesma 
stolata (Tamil name Oolai pambu) 1 foot long emerged from 
the harvested paddy plants on to the open field. The other 
birds raised an alarm and flew away, but the roller flew close 
to the snake and caught it in its bill. The snake was alive and 
struggling to free itself. The roller battered the snake against 
the wooden cross till it died and then swallowed its head first. 

The Book of Indian Birds (Ali S. 1979) states that its food 
includes insects, frog or lizards. Whether or not the snake 
forms a common food item for the bird is not known. 



CURIOUS BEHAVIOUR OF COMMON WOOD SHRIKES 

Tephrodornis pondicerianus. S.N. VARU, Junavas Madhapar 
Kutch 370 020, J.K. TIWARI, Research Officer, Wildlife and 
Environment, Sanghi Cements, Sanghipuram, Moti-Ber, 
Abdhasa, Kutch 370 655 

On 28th January 1996, we were birdwatching in a dry 
river bed, adjoining a tropical thorn forest near Ramvada, in 
Kutch, Gujarat. 

Apart from many usual species of birds that we were 
encountering e.g. small minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus 
Marshall's lora Aegithina nigrolutea etc. we saw many 
common wood shrikes Tephrodornis pondicerianus. The 
interesting point was that, they were seen frequently on the 
riverbed walking on the sand in the manner of pipits, and 
picking up tit-bits from the ground. 

The wood shrikes were probably catching insects 
flushed by our movements. The above behaviour seems 
curious and undescribed in literature. 



THE UNDELIVERED SPEECH. VINOJ MATHEW PHILIP, 
Environmental Resources Research Centre, PB.1230, 
Peroorkada, Trivandrum 695 005. 

It was with great interest that I read The Undelivered 
Speech" (Special Address at OSI Meet, Delhi), of Zafar 
Futehally in Vol.36 No.1 Jan-Feb 1996 of N.L.B.W. I was 
moved by his pleas to get our administrators interested in 
ornithology, and equally important, to create urban 
environments free from crows. 



AN UNUSUAL DIET OF THE INDIAN ROLLER - Coracias 
benghalensis (Linnaeus). Prof. A. RELTON, Nature Club 
Bishop Heber College, P.O.Box 615, TRICHY 620 017, 
Tamil Nadu 

On the 28th of March, J was observing a group of grey 
and yellow wagtails, a pair of black drongos and a few 
common mynas in a paddy field, just harvested, near 
Tiruchirap'palli, Tamilnadu. The workers were bundling the 
harvested paddy. The birds were busy feeding on the 
insects which were flying or running around the paddy plants 
after the harvest. 

A single Indian roller joined the group of birds in the field. 
It selected a perch, a wooden cross in the paddy field 



ALBINO COOT 'FULICA ATRA SIGHTED NEAR KOTA. 

ANIL NAIR and RAKESH VYAS, Hadoti Naturalists Society, 
2 p 22, Vigyan Nagar, KOTA 324 005 

Albinism does occur among birds and animals although 
rarely. The loss of pigmentation could be complete or partial. 
During December 1995 a pure white coot was sighted 
among 6000 coots, which flock at Ummedganj every year 
during winter. The place is ideally suitable for these birds 
which primarily feed on floating and submerged aquatic 
vegetation. It was on a cold winter morning that we saw a 
pure white bird with only a few black breast feathers. The 
albino coot looked quite normal and at ease among its all 
black" brethren. No apartheid was observed. The Bill was 
pinkish white unlike greyish white of other coots. The bird 
stayed throughout winter and was repeatedly sighted upto 
February. 

An albino ruff 'Philomachus pugnax' was also sighted by 
the second author in November 1994 at Lakhawa Village 
tank in a flock of about 200 birds. The albino bird had 
strikingly white feathers with pink bill and legs. Only two 
primaries in each wing were grey. As Albinism is a rare 
phenomenon it is being reported. 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



59 



FEEDING BEHAVIOUR OF INDIAN KOEL (Eudynamis 

Scolopacea) ON MALE FLOWERS OF PAPAYA PLANT 

K.S. JOSE, Tc5/376, Plavilaveedu, Perurkada P.O., 
TRIVANDRUM 695 005 

On 11.02.95 at 5 p.m. I saw a male Koel eating the 
tender parts of the male flowers of the papaya plant. After 
sometime, both a male and female flew to this papaya plant 
and ate male papaya flowers. 



IS RED LEGGED POND HERON A FEMALE. 

Prof. A. RELTON, Staff Advisor, Nature Club, Bishop Heber 
College, TRICHY 620 017 

On 25th May 1996, I was travelling between 
Tiruchirapalli and Karur. Our bus stopped in a place called 
Kulithalai. I saw a local Gypsy tribe (Narikuravan/ 
Kuruvikaron - means Bird man) selling birds he shot with his 
gun. He had a pair of indian pond herons Ardeola grayii, 3 
koels Eudynamys scolopacea 3 spotted doves Streptopelia 
chinensis and a white breasted water hen Amauromis 
phoenicurus. Suddenly I noticed one of the pond heron with 
red legs. I got down from the bus to have a closer look. I 
have been looking for red legged pond herons since 1990 
and I have identified red legged pond herons on three 
occasions last year (between May - August 1995). 

The first time I saw 17 nesting birds in a village called 
Nallumoolai-sungam between Pollachi and Valparai in a 
Peepal tree Ficus reiligiosa of which 7 were having either red 
or bright orange legs Then in a tamarind tree (Tamarindus 
indica) in a place close to Vathalkundu on the way to 
Kodaikanal, three pond herons with red legs were identified. 
Finally in Ramanathapuram in a mixed heronry of little 
egrets, cormorants, grey herons, pond herons and night 
herons. I noticed 8 pond herons and 2 night herons with red 
legs. 

So in order to examine the bird, I bought the pair of pond 
herons for Rs.25. Both the birds were in their breeding 
plumage with maroon hair like plumes on their back and long 
white occipital crest. The red legged bird was smaller than 
the other. 

I opened the birds with the hope of identifying their sex. 
The red legged pond heron was a female, it had a cluster of 
6 small eggs, whereas the other bird did not have any. 

In earlier reports by (Humayun Abdul Ali and Alexander 
1952, Wesley 1993, 1996) no sex identification was 
established. On earlier occasions I have noticed red legged 
pond herons sitting inside the nest either with eggs or with 
nestlings. So I am of the opinion that all red legged pond 
herons are females, but it requires more confirmation. 

I have observed one more interesting feature in the legs 
of both the birds. I saw a small saw teeth like projection in 
the middle of their toe, on the upper side of the claws in both 
legs. I don't know whether it appears during breeding 
season, to help the bird to clean its plumes or it is a 
permanent feature. 

Since I could not take the whole bird with me, I cut the 
legs gave the remaining bird to the Gypsy himself and left for 
my destination. There I took photographs of the legs. 



Acknowledgement : 

I thank my brother A. Watson Thamburaj and Prof. A. 
Alagappa Moses for their help and the drawing. 

References : 

Neginhal, S.G. (1982) The birds of Ranganthittu, J.BNHS 72(3) 
581 - 583. 

Wesley, H.D. (1 993) Genetics of the red tarsi and feet in the Pond 
Heron NLBW 33(4): 73 

Wesley, H.D. (1996) More Red-legged Pond Herons NLBW 
36(1): 5 



Announcements 



BIRDS OF PERIYAR 

Robertson (Andrew) & Jackson (Michael C.A.). BIRDS 
OF PERIYAR - an aid to birdwatching in Periyar Sanctuary, 
Kerala, S.India. 226 x 167 mm ; 125 pages ; map and line 
drawings. The book can be ordered by sending demand 
draft of Rs.110/= (Rs.10/- for packing and postage) payable 
to Tourism and Wildlife Society of India, Jaipur. 

'C-158-A, Dayanand Marg, TilakNagar, Jaipur - 302 004' 



CANDIDATES FOR ASIAN RED DATA BOOK. AASHEESH 
PITTIE, 8-2-545 "Prem Pan/at", Road No. 7, Banjara Hills, 
Hyderabad 500 034 

The modus-operandi for collecting information on 
candidate species for the Asian Red Data Book project has 
changed slightly. Now, instead of Zonal-coordinators, 
species-compilers have been appointed to compile data on 
selected species. 

I will compile notes for the following six species. 

1 . Sykes's Crested Lark Galerida deva. 

2. Malabar Crested Lark Galerida malabarica. 

3. Forest Owlet Athene blewitti. 

4. Broadtailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyura. 

5. Brownwinged Kingfisher Pelargopsis amauropterus. 

6. Brownbreasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui. 

I request readers of the Newsletter to send me their 
notes and observations on these species as soon as 
possible, since a first draft has to be submitted in November 
1996. Needless to say, all contributions will be 
acknowledged in the final printed volume. 



PHEASANTS OF INDIA AND THEIR AVICULTURE. Kfl 

SURESH SINGH, Auto House, 8 Singar Singh Bldg. Lai 
Bagh, Lucknow 226 001 

I am pleased to inform you that my book on pheasants 
has recently been published by Wildlife Institute, Dehradun. 
It is titled Pheasants of India and their Aviculture (ISBN 
81-85496-00-5, Price Rs.150/=). It contains the following 
chapters - 1 . Systematics 2. Census 3. Aviculture 4. Feeding 



and Nutrition 5. Stock and Breeding 6. Elective Breeding 7. 
Incubation 8. Hatching and Rearing 9. Reintroduction and 
Release 10. Diseases 11. Appendices. It covers 176 pages, 
and has many coloured illustrations, both painting and 
photographs all by the authors. 

The publication was unnecessarily delayed and the 
get-up should have been better. However, I have done the 
best under the circumstances. 



BIBLIOGRAPHIC INDEX 

"Copies of the recently published A BIBLIOGRAPHIC INDEX TO 
THE ORNITHOLOGY OF THE INDIAN REGION, PART I, compiled 
by Aasheesh Pittie, are available for sale with the "author at the 
following address. Aasheesh Pittie, 8-2-545 Road No. 7, Banjara 
Hills, Hyderabad 500 034. This publication covers Stray Feathers 
(1873-1881), volumes 1-10 and Journal "of the Bombay Natural 
History Society (1886-1993), volumes 1-90. Price in India, Rs. 150 
plus Rs. 13 for postage (Registered Parcel). Mode of payment M.O., 
D.D. (payable at Hyderabad) or Cheque (Rs. 10 extra for outstation 
cheques)." 



S.A. HUSSAIN' 



Conservation and Development - Who Foots the Bill ? 

At the first meeting of the Inter-governmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity in Geneva three years ago, 
delegates from some "most developed" countries were at great pains to urge why everybody else should be concerned about 
the pitfalls of "developmenf . Europe, it was lamented, relied too much on high-tech methods to develop its agro-economy, at 
the cost of its all too meagre biodiversity. Biologically rich but economically weak developing countries were strongly urged to 
conserve precious natural resources at all costs. How are delegates from the "developing" countries expected to receive this? 
Should ail development stop so that biodiversity can be conserved for everyone's sake? 

What dels the term "developmenf imply? Does if mean a lifestyle ensconced in air-conditioned comfort with push button 
technology at your fingertips? Does it mean that without electric can openers one cannot eat one's dinner and escalators are 
indispensable to shopping malls? Is being "developed" as is generally understood, the ultimate achievable goal for the survival 
of humankind and the entire world? The world is obsejfeed with this great divide between the so-called "developed" and the 
"developing" (whatever that means). The yard stick thiafs measured by is dictated solely by what the "developed" possess. 

It is ironic that while captains of development fret about energy problems, global warming and rapid depletion of the resources 
that prop up their lifestyles, the Orang asli under his thatched roof in a remote Malaysian rainforest is surrounded by the richest 
natural resources one can ask for. He may not have an electric toothbrush to clean his teeth, but at least he does not have to 
worry about how and where to dispose of nuclear waste. 

Miraculously, life goes on Earth no matter where one lives. People and materials move about whether there is a twelve-lane 
expressway or not; babies are bom whether one has medical insurance or not; diseases or disasters affect both the inhabitants 
and the environment whether one lives in an undeveloped neighbourhood or not. 

One needs to compare the energy required to support an average family unit in a "developed" country with that of the cost of 
maintaining a less "developed" household to estimate the trade-off between development and conservation for both cases. It 
means that the "have riot's" must not overly increase their demands on the environment so. as to catch up-with the lifestyles of 
the "haves", and by that, they can exert less pressure on the existing resources. Gn the other hand, the "developed" should 
shed the unessential, energy guzzling andjjo'lluting extra trappings of their lifestyles to lessen the pressure on the resources. 
The aspirations of one and the conceipfof the othertcould be resolved and a balanced meeting ground could be reached. 
However, will anyone listen to this? Some of us who care for nature and its bounty are sometimes horrified to see a few hombill 
feathers stuck on the head of a reigning tribal chieftairPin his native rainforest. Yet somewhere out there, our wonderful 
"developed" and "developing" economies are relentlessly churning out monstrous species that cut, slash, tear, drain, pollute, 
devastate, trample and kill our forests, wetlands, habitats and people - all in the name of "developmenf I 

Better late than never, the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity seem to have come together to take a 
serious look at these problems. From Geneva to the Bahamas to Jakarta the dialogue -has continued relentlessly. Some 
agreement on the basic mechanisms for implementing the Convention seems to have been achieved. Whether by sheer 
necessity or by compulsion, the political will to move forward seeme'to have been demonstrated by the Contracting Parties - 
not withstanding problems and setbacks that are inherent to any multilateral negotiations. The buck needs to be stopped 
somewhere. 



' Council Member, Birdllfe International 



Courtesy : World Bird Watch, June 1996 



Editor : ZAFAR FUTEHKU.Y, No. 2205, Oakwood Apartments, 
Jakkasandra Layout, Koramangala 3rd Block, 8th Main. 
Bangalore 560 034. » 

Printed and Published Bi-monthly by S. Sridhar at Navbharath 
Enterprises, Seshadripuram, Bangalore 560,020. For Private 
Circulation Only. 

Tel. : 3364142 Fax : 3364682 

E-Mail : <sridhar.navbratOaxcess.net.in> 



Cover: Grey Hombill (Tockusbirostris). Has a peculiar pointed 
casque surmounted on the beak. Seen in fairly well-wooded 
areas, with ticus trees. Makes a variety of loud cackling and 
squealing calls. Food includes berries, beetles, lizards and an 
occasional scorpion. 

Photo : S. Sridhar, arps